A decade chock-full of atrocious decisions is where I will begin today. My poor decision making all stemmed from a failure to love myself, yet more importantly, my inability to grasp just how much God loved me. This emotional deprivation fueled a treacherous scavenger hunt of seeking love by those who could never provide it. My soul search broadcast like a daytime soap, granting everyone close to me viewing access. Bad decision plastered on top of bad decision, quickly modifying the trajectory of my once picturesque life. It is these dreadful decisions that bred consequence, that ultimately produced scars; and despite being forgiven, rapidly became the objects to smother and be ashamed of. Shame…it is a precarious foe. It has the power to torment and bind in captivity even the strongest victim. It took me several years to realize that shame was a hand-me-down from the enemy. An aftereffect of my past, but not one I was obligated to own. Once free from the snare of shame, I was capable of grasping what God had planned for my previous short comings.
Imagine if you can a dark so dark, you literally, cannot see your hand in front of your face. In 2016, our home and many of our neighbor’s homes flooded after days of torrential rain. Once the water began rising, the electric company came and shut off the power to the entire street. It was then, that I could truly comprehend, the meaning of the kind of darkness I asked you to imagine. The only light we were afforded, was what generated from the stars and moon. I remember, during this 11-day period of pilgrim-hood, my husband would light an old oil lantern at the end of every day, so that, we may maneuver our way throughout our home. All 8 of us crowded around a minuscule, yet abundantly significant device, so that we could get where we needed to go.
A lantern. A device, that in the absence of darkness, sits on a shelf, in a closet, seemingly useless, until, suddenly… it becomes the most critical tool. The same holds true for our “past”. Our past decisions, our past short comings, our past failures. These pasts can serve as lanterns, to help lost souls find their way, when they are lost in the darkest of dark. If we will pull off the blanket of shame, guilt and defeat blinding us, God intends to do something miraculous and beautiful. The shadows and depths of travail you’ve suffered, that the enemy intended for destruction; isn’t to shackle; but is to be a guide for another struggling in the darkness of a similar battle.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 MSG